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All posts tagged "media player"


Friday, July 22, 2011

Say Hello to the Roku 2 HD, XD, and XS

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 12:36 PM

http://www.engadget.com/2011/07/19/...ce-smaller-siz/

"Setting a new standard in streaming entertainment, Roku today introduced Roku 2, a new family of streaming players. Available in three models - the Roku 2 HD, Roku 2 XD and Roku 2 XS - this new line brings popular casual games including Angry Birds to the TV alongside Roku's large and growing selection of entertainment. Roku 2 players also feature a sleek new design that's more energy-efficient than before, using less than two watts of power."

Roku has a special place in my tech-loving heart because of the M2000, my first network media player. And when I think about how trouble-free it was compared to the troublesome Logitech Squeezebox, I'm saddened that Roku exited this market to focus on TV-attached media players. But I digress...Roku is delivering much of the same content as the Boxee Box does, but they're doing it for half the price (or less). That's tough to beat - for but me, without ISO support, the Roku box won't find a place in my home.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Psst...Your TV is Kind of Dumb: Make it Smart

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:00 PM

http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-CA/researc...ekly-ALL-110419

"It doesn't take a genius to appreciate the benefits of the new LG Smart TV Upgrader. With one little black box you can turn your current TV into a Web browsing, movie streaming, media sharing machine. Enjoy surfing the Internet from the comfort of your couch, check your FacebookTM and TwitterTM feeds on your flat-screen display and watch videos stored on your computer's hard drive without leaving the living room. The LG Smart TV Upgrader is all you need to make your TV a Smart TV, with all the online features of the latest models. If that's not brilliant, we don't know what is."

I heard about the LG SmartTV Upgrader ST600 during CES, and it looks like it's here - Best Buy in Canada is selling it for $149.99 CAD. From the looks of the specs and what it can do, it's much more sophisticated than your typical media streaming device - it's sort of like a Boxee Box in some ways (and about $50 cheaper to boot). It supports a wide variety of video file formats (MPEG2, MPEG4, DivX, DivXHD, MKV, TS TP, M4V, WMV) though I don't see ISO files on that list, which pretty much kills it for me. However, with a Web browser and a growing selection of applications, this could be just the ticket for making that TV of yours just a bit smarter.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Xtreamer Prodigy: A Feature-Packed Media Player

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:00 PM

http://www.ehomeupgrade.com/2011/02...er-competition/

"Xtreamer is announcing their latest media streamer, the Xtreamer Prodigy, which can also double as a home and remote server courtesy of its NFS and DDnS functionality. The new Xtreamer Prodigy makes use of Realtek's 1185 chipset, which allows the device to support full 1080p HD video with 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD passthrough surround sound. Prodigy provides 512MB of DDR3 memory, USB 3.0 connectivity, Gigabit Ethernet (optional Wi-Fi 802.11n dongle available), support for up to a 3TB hard drive, memory card slot, SPDIF, HDMI, and other nice goodies."

Network Media Players are a dime a dozen, but every so often one comes up that combines powerful video support with a great UI, and that product stands out from the rest (Boxee Box). The UI on this device looks better than most, and it certainly provides a lot of bang for the buck if the $69 price point is to be believed!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Western Digital Introduces WD TV Live Hub Media Center With 1 TB Storage

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:30 AM

http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Prod...asp?DriveID=891

"Get your family and friends together, sit back, and enjoy! Whether it's your own videos, music, and photos or Internet entertainment, with the WD TV Live Hub media center you can enjoy it all in the comfort of your living room in brilliant high-definition. Put your personal media on the high-capacity built-in hard drive and stream it to any screen in the house...Watch popular movies and TV episodes instantly - Don't wait for the mailman to deliver your movies and don't settle for streaming to your small computer screen. Access Blockbuster On Demand® or your Netflix® unlimited membership and watch TV episodes and movies on your big screen."

It seems like everybody is in the media-streaming-set-top-box business, and this is Western Digital's new product. It supports Netflix and Blockbuster On Demand, which is pretty standard. What's also standard is a crummy user interface - but looking at this video below, it looks like Western Digital may have finally moved beyond the DOS-like directory listing I've seen on their previous products.

Curious how this new product compares with previous offerings from Western Digital - they have a chart for that. I'm not very familiar with Western Digital's media players, but if that comparison chart is correct, the previous version didn't pull metadata for media files - that's really old school. Glad to see the new one is smart enough to do that! The list of supported formats is fairly broad, but without ISO support, it's not something that interests me very much. Is ISO support important to you, or do you rip your DVDs and don't need it?

We've requested one for review, so fingers crossed, we'll be bringing you some hands-on experience with the product soon!

UPDATE: Oh look, here's a review of it already!


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Pre-Ordered a Boxee Box: Have You?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 09:00 AM

http://astore.amazon.com/digitalhom...tail/B0038JE07O

Last week, I placed a pre-order for a Boxee Box (you can too via this handy pre-order link!). Why? Well, I've been watching the network/local media player space evolve over the past few years, and I've yet to implement any of them. I've seen two basic types of devices:

  1. Devices that offer superior technical capabilities in terms of files (ISO rips, etc.) and formats supported (every video codec under the sun), but lack any semblance of true usability, often featuring awful user interface, painful performance, or both. I'd put most of the dedicated network media players in this camp; Popcorn Hour, efforts from Seagate, Western Digital, Asus, etc.
  2. Devices that offer superior user interface and usability, but lack broad technical abilities; they're often limited in terms of file types (no ISO support), codecs, and are very mainstream in their support of content. I'd put Windows Media Center, and anything based on that (Media Center Extenders), in this category along with the Xbox 360, Apple TV, etc.

I've wanted a device that does both, and it looks like the Boxee Box may be the closest I've come so far. I've messed around with several of these devices over the years; I even bought an Acer Aspire Revo and installed XBMC on it in the hopes that I'd finally be able to do what I wanted. It failed. Read more...


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blu-Ray 3D on Your Laptop with PowerDVD 10?

Posted by Don Tolson in "Digital Home Software" @ 08:00 AM

Product Category: Video/Audio Player
Manufacturer: CyberLink
Where to Buy: Amazon [affiliate]
Price: Starts at $49.95USD for the Standard version. Ultra version tested is $99.95USD.
System Requirements: Windows XP SP3/Vista/Win7 -- Intel Pentium 4 3.0Ghz+ or AMD Athlon 64 2800+ 1.8Ghz+; 512meg RAM, DirectX 9.0. For Blu-Ray: WinXP SP3/Vista/Win 7 -- Intel Pentium 4, CoreDuo or Core2Quad or Athlon 64 4400+, 1Gig RAM; blu-ray compatible drive. Full system requirements can be found on the CyberLink website.
Specifications: Video: Blu-Ray, AVCHD, AVCREC, MPEG-4, MPEG-2, SMPTE, VC-1, WMV-HD, RM/RMVB, MKV, FLV, HDMI3.1. Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/7.1/HD, DTS/HD/96/24, HDMI3.1, AAC. A full description of supported formats is available here.

Pros:

  • Wide variety of video and audio formats supported;
  • Blu-Ray and 3D emulation (needs compatible screen) with Blu-Ray 3D native support coming soon;
  • Includes TrueTheatre video 'noise' filters and stabilizer.

Cons:

  • Music interface is lacking in 'modern' features (album art, playlists, etc.);
  • May overload some systems;
  • Overloaded with 'social networking' interfaces.

Summary:

PowerDVD by CyberLink has been the DVD player of choice for OEMs for a number of years, providing a simple way to view movies on home PCs and laptops. With version 10, CyberLink extends the capabilities of the software to the point where a well-equipped media PC can compete with dedicated home theatre equipment. With Blu-Ray (TM), Dolby (TM) 7.1 and remote support, all you really need is a big screen monitor and you'd be all set. Let's take a look and see if you really need that dedicated Blu-Ray player.

Read more...


Thursday, April 29, 2010

AVerLife Cinema: Enjoy Movies, Music, and Photos on Your TV

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 05:30 PM

http://hothardware.com/News/AVerMed...l-Media-Player/

"A few product categories have really exploded over the past couple of years: netbooks, smartphones and digital media players come to mind.... AVerMedia Technologies.... has just announced the AVerLife Cinema, which is a digital media player that allows you to combine all media files, including movies, videos, music and photos, on a single device for playback on a TV - all from the comfort of your living room."

For under $70 - a price HotHardware.com finds very competitive - the AVerMedia AVerLife Cinema will allow you to view your digital media on your TV. Limitations include an inability to connect a network drive, a maximum resolution of 720p across the HDMI output, and lack of WiFi capability. The unit allows input from either a Hi-Speed USB port, or built-in multiple format card reader; output ports provided are Audio L/R, Composite and Component Video, and HDMI - and AVerMedia includes both HDMI and Component video cables, along with a remote control, which suggests that this unit may indeed be a good value. Do you agree that the price point makes this unit competitive - or is it missing one or more features that you would consider "must haves" in this product category?


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Logitech Squeezebox Duet: A Powerful But Quirky Network Audio Player

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:00 AM

Product Category: Wireless streaming audio player
Manufacturer: Logitech
Where to Buy: Amazon.com [Affiliate]
Price: $333.99 USD
System Requirements: 802.11b/g network or hard-wired Ethernet, and a computer (Windows or Mac OS X) to host the Squeebox software.
Specifications: Available at the Logitech Web site.

Pros:

  • Powerful audio streaming system capable of many tasks;
  • Attractive design, small shelf footprint with multiple audio outputs;
  • Excellent audio quality.

Cons:

  • Expensive;
  • Total reliance on WiFi makes for a bumpy experience;
  • Incompatible with some (most?) 802.11n routers;
  • Complex setup and overall operation make it for experienced users only.

Summary: The Logitech Squeezebox Duet is a potent combo that makes for a powerful home audio solution for music, podcasts, streaming radio, and more. Unfortunately, because it's such a complex product, it's not overly user friendly. In the many months I've been using it, I've felt like I've had to fix problems with it every other week. It's more like a computer and less like an appliance, with all the dubious reliability implications that statement implies. Still, it has great potential and when it works, it works really well. Read more...


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Zune Finally Good Enough To Clone

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 08:30 AM

http://www.electronista.com/article...e.media.player/

"Taiwan's MSI, known mainly for its PCs, has released its latest portable media player, the MT-V660. The device is styled after Microsoft's Zune HD and uses a Rockchip RK2806 chipset along with a 3.2-inch display with a 480x320 resolution."

While Apple's iPod line has had a quadrillion copy cats, Microsoft's Zune has remained relatively unscathed until now. With the Zune HD getting rave reviews it was only a matter of time before similar looking products started showing up. If I were Microsoft, I would feel flattered! The fact that this one comes from MSI is a bit of a surprise, but it appears that the less euphoniously named MT-V660 appears to offer playback for a wealth of formats. Whether it will support the rest of the features a Zune HD offers, and have as slick an interface remains to be seen. One thing that is certain though, is that it will be sold beyond the US border.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Boxee Alpha Comes To Windows

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:30 PM

http://lifehacker.com/5301859/boxee...ands-on-windows

"The latest release also introduces a handful of attention-getting web apps like MLB.tv, officially supported and offering full access to baseball games around the country. Others, like Current TV, Digg, some clever Twitter/Tumblr mashups and niche video sources, came from the providers themselves or the just-ended dev challenge."

Boxee has made quite a name for itself, though with my desktop PCs running Windows (I have a couple of Linux servers, and I cannot afford Macs) I've been standing on the sidelines, looking longingly at the media player. Finally, a Windows client has arrived, though it is very much an alpha version. After playing with it for a few hours, I find the interface quite pleasant and more intuitive than Windows Media Center or those which come on media playerback devices like the WD TV. I had no problems immediately accessing content, both locally and on the net, though being in Canada, I did hit a few roadblocks with several applications telling me that I'm not allowed to watch Babylon 5 of Macgyver. The alphaness of the Windows client also shone through in some places with some spawned programs crashing, but overall, its been pretty pleasant experience. I would like to see some more customization options, and some regional presets so that if some applications cannot be accessed from where you are, it does not display them. I can only hope that as more content becomes available online to Canadians that Boxee will dedicate enough resources to add some polish, or I'll have to look towards setting up yet another computer just for media playback!


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Popcorn A-100 Media Player Reviewed

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 05:00 AM

http://forums.thoughtsmedia.com/f30...view-89110.html

"I am a lazy man. A lazy man with a large collection of TV series on DVD. It's always annoyed me that I've had to pull the DVD box off the shelf, pull apart several layers of packaging, find out which disc has the episode I want to watch on it and then put that disc in my DVD player. Surely there must be an easier way of watching video in the digital age? With this in mind, I've investigating ways in which I can create a digital video jukebox for my DVDs. After a bit of research, I narrowed it down to four choices..."

A couple of months ago Digital Home Thoughts community member Stinger published his review of the Popcorn A-100, and at one point I intended to post on it and it slipped my mind - sorry about that Stinger! The review is very detailed and contains many photos as well - worth checking out!


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